CUSTOMER SERVICE 101: THE POWER IN A SMILE
What sets us apart from all the others vying to both gain and retain customers? Above training, experience, and products – the way in which customers are treated is what keeps them coming back and telling others about our business. The beautiful thing? It does not take educated, high salary employees to make the difference – they just need to enjoy making someone smile. No doubt – the key component that has allowed Pamela Denham and Associates to remain in business – these 25 years later – is the efficiency and response to every client’s needs and requests! In the competitive realm of business, customer service has emerged as a crucial differentiator.
To carry it a step further, research has shown that – among the multitude of strategies and techniques to enhance customer service — there is one simple, cost-effective, and highly efficient tool – the power in a smile. Yes, you read that right. This humble human expression can dramatically transform customer experiences, even when conversations happen over a phone call or video conference.
Why Smile? It’s Real Science
A smile is not simply a random gesture; it is a potent tool that impacts our neurochemistry. Yes – studies show that when we smile, it stimulates our brain’s reward mechanism in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure inducer, cannot match. It also reduces stress-enhancing hormones and increases mood-enhancing hormones. This not only makes us feel better but also positively influences those around us.
How does this play into the business world?
The result? Happier employees AND happy customers!
A Smile Beyond Sight
You might wonder, “How is smiling relevant when most of our customer interactions are over the phone or through written communication?” The beauty of a smile is that it is more than just a visual expression. Interestingly enough, when we smile, our vocal cords are affected, causing our voices to become warmer and friendlier. This phenomenon, often referred to as ‘smile when you talk” can significantly impact the tone and perceived friendliness of a phone or video conversation. Even though your customer might not see your face, they can ‘hear’ your smile, making them feel more comfortable and receptive.
A little tip that I encourage when providing customer service training workshops: Keep a mirror in your individual workspace – visible during a phone call – so that you are intentional about smiling when you talk on the phone! It makes a difference and, after practice, becomes a great habit that yields great returns!
Building Trust with a Smile
Trust is the bedrock of any successful personal and business relationship. The wheel of retention is set when customers believe a company is competent, transparent, and caring. These three qualities build trust in the relationship.
A genuine smile can seal the deal in building that trust – signaling sincerity, openness, and friendliness, creating an atmosphere that feels safe and welcoming to the customer.
Additionally – when dealing with challenging situations or dissatisfied customers, this approach – the human approach – leads to positive recovery and resolutions.
The Smiling Advantage in Difficult Situations
Inevitably, there will be times when customer interactions become difficult. Whether it’s a disgruntled customer, a complaint, or a misunderstanding, these situations can be delicate to handle. But even in these circumstances, a smile can come to your rescue. Maintaining a friendly demeanor, reflected in your tone and words, can help defuse tension, making the customer feel heard and valued. This can turn a potentially negative experience into a demonstration of your company’s commitment to outstanding customer service.
“Sandwiching the Communication” – Tip for Positive Resolution When Things Go Downhill.
- Enter at the Human Level before doing business – always. SMILE.
- Talk about something during the interaction not directly related to the business at-hand.
- When the business is complete, exit through the human level. SMILE.
- For situations where strong feelings are present, move back to the Human Level.
Smiling: An Essential Part of Corporate Culture
As we’ve seen, the act of smiling carries immense power in influencing customer service outcomes. But its value extends beyond individual interactions to influence your broader corporate culture. By fostering an environment that values and promotes positivity and friendliness, you will naturally enhance the customer experience to a level of delight! Your team’s shared commitment to ‘smile when you talk’ can transform your customer service approach, making each interaction a positive, welcoming experience for your customers.
I’ve heard it said that NOT smiling when you talk is like having a million bucks in the bank with no checkbook! It’s that valuable!
In conclusion, a smile might seem like a small thing, but it can have a profound impact on your business’s customer service success. Whether your interactions are face-to-face, over the phone, or through a screen, remembering to ‘smile when you talk’ can make all the difference.
Tip? Start practicing the exercise of “smiling when you talk” when you brush your teeth in the morning and again at night. It’s a great practice which makes perfect your customer service effort.